Have you ever had a conversation with someone who is skeptical about the Bible, and one of the first questions they may ask you is, “Do you take the Bible literally?”
Many Christians, upon hearing the question, instinctively go on the defensive and say, “Yes, I do take the Bible literally.” After all, if the Bible is under attack, a believer will want to stand up and say that they take God at His Word. But then you can almost envision the annoyed look on the skeptic’s face when they respond with something like, “Well then, do you hate your family? After all, did not Jesus say that unless you hate your father, mother, wife, children, brothers and sisters, then you can not be a follower of Jesus?” This classic objection from Luke 14:26 often puts the believer back on the defensive again, trying to come up with some way to get around the idea of taking the Bible “literally” without compromising one’s faith.
I can almost see the skeptic stiffen up and say, “Mmmm… I see.. so you don’t really take the Bible literally. So why should I?”
When I am asked that first question from a skeptic, I never give a flat response. Instead, I in turn ask a different question, “Well, what do you ‘literally’ mean by ‘literally‘?”